The Arkansas Legislative Council on Friday licensed spending about $100 million in federal coronavirus aid funds, together with $48.5 million for grants for service and hospitality companies affected by the pandemic and $25 million to assist match federal funds for extra unemployment advantages.
The state now has $81.6 million in unallocated federal coronavirus aid funds remaining out of the $1.25 billion it was allotted, mentioned Jake Bleed, the state’s finances director.
The unallocated funds embody $18.9 million returned from the Arkansas Prepared for Enterprise program’s authentic allocation of as much as $147.7 million, he mentioned.
Companies eligible for the $48.5 million enterprise interruption grant program shall be within the private care, tourism, journey, recreation and hospitality industries most straight impacted by mandatory public well being measures and the continued covid-19 pandemic, mentioned David Bell, chief monetary officer on the state Division of Commerce.
This system will present grants to small companies with as much as 250 full-time workers positioned in Arkansas for bills related to covid-19 mitigation and for sure enterprise interruption bills straight associated to native, state or federal authorities covid-19 directives, in response to the Division of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.
The grant utility interval will open Nov. 16 and shut Nov. 25, the division mentioned Friday. Grants shall be awarded, doubtless in late December, on a prorated foundation relying on the overall variety of candidates and the quantity requested.
The awards shall be restricted to $250,000 per utility and never all candidates shall be authorised, the division mentioned in a written abstract of this system.
The division mentioned the grant quantities shall be primarily based on standards established by a evaluation committee.
The committee will contemplate the overall quantity of eligible bills; general impression of covid-19 to the enterprise’s trade; and the distinction within the gross sales tax totals paid by the enterprise throughout March 1-Sept. 30 in 2019, as in contrast with the identical interval in 2020.
The evaluation committee will embody Parks, Heritage and Tourism Secretary Stacy Hurst; Commerce Secretary Mike Preston; and Finance and Administration Secretary Larry Walther, in addition to one designeee from every division.
A purpose is to direct at the very least 15% of the cash to minority- and women-owned companies.
The Division of Finance and Administration will deal with purposes, expense approval and paying the grants, in response to a letter from Bell to Walther.
$2M FOR MANAGEMENT
The Legislative Council authorised the finance division’s request to pay $2 million of the aid funds to the Middle for Toxicology and Environmental Well being in North Little Rock for grant administration on this enterprise grant program.
The council additionally signed off on rising the finance division’s contract with the agency from $4 million to $6 million from July 24 of this 12 months by July 23, 2024. The division initially contracted with the agency to develop a database for use by state and native authorities businesses to restrict the state’s threat of paying again aid funds not correctly reported or documented.
Sen. Jonathan Dismang, R-Searcy, mentioned certainly one of his preliminary issues about creating the enterprise interruption grant program was ensuring it wasn’t “burdensome with entities which might be already strapped for money and sources and every part else.
“So by using any such program [through the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health], we’ll take a few of that away to permit them to freely apply with out a lot pressure that may be created below a burdensome utility course of,” he mentioned.
Sen. Missy Irvin, Mountain View, mentioned on reflection, “It will have been nice to have an organization like that from the get-go.
“One of many issues that we discovered from the Prepared for Enterprise program was that companies that had extra individuals on their employees that had the power and form of have been plugged into the grant-making course of have been in a position to get these submitted shortly, and on time and really simply, whereas small enterprise house owners who most likely didn’t have that stage of experience actually have been behind the eight ball on all of that,” she mentioned.
The Legislative Council on Friday authorised the Division of Commerce’s Workforce Companies Division request to spend $25 million in federal coronavirus aid funds to make use of as state matching funds for different federal funds to pay supplemental federal unemployment advantages.
The division was authorised for the Federal Emergency Administration Company’s Misplaced Wages supplemental fee help on Aug. 25 and three weeks of $300-a-week funds have been distributed by this system with the state’s CARES Act steering committee approving $8 million to fulfill the state match requirement, mentioned Charisse Childers, the division’s director.
The CARES Act is the federal Coronavirus Help, Aid, and Financial Safety Act.
The $300 per week was an extension of pandemic unemployment help that President Donald Trump referred to as for in an Aug. 8 govt order. The unique $600 per week supplemental profit was authorised as a part of the Coronavirus Help, Aid, and Financial Safety Act that Congress authorised in March. That complement expired July 31.
In an Oct. 6 letter to Walther, Childers wrote that the Workforce Companies Division “respectfully requests to use for a further three weeks of help” in federal funds for unemployment advantages.
The aim of the request to spend $25 million extra in federal coronavirus aid funds is to make sure enough spending authority to satisfy the matching necessities specified by FEMA upon utility for extra help, she wrote.
“If authorised, the requested $25 million appropriation will permit [the Workforce Services Division] to make the most of beforehand authorised $8 million in CARES Act funding in addition to any further funds to satisfy the state match required by FEMA for the [lost wages assistance] program for the proposed three further weeks,” Childers wrote.
She mentioned the division estimated the necessity for extra funds to offer the state match at about $10 million to $15 million.
Childers mentioned Friday in an interview that FEMA has authorised the division’s request to permit the state to offer three extra weeks of supplemental federal unemployment advantages of $300, and now she’s going to ask the state’s CARES steering committee subsequent week “to get the cash” to pay the unemployment advantages.
She mentioned she hopes the supplemental federal unemployment advantages shall be distributed subsequent week or early the next week.
Different requests to spend federal coronavirus aid funds that cleared the Legislative Council on Friday included:
• The Division of Agriculture’s request to spend $5.4 million to assist an current cost-share program to assist native, small-scale Arkansas meat-processing amenities increase processing capability to satisfy elevated demand because of the impacts of the covid-19 pandemic.
The division beforehand obtained $5 million for this system, which is modeled after related applications in Missouri and Oklahoma that used federal coronavirus aid funds.
• The Division of Human Companies’ request to spend $5 million on neighborhood outreach funding grants to nonprofit and neighborhood organizations offering direct companies to people inside high-poverty areas.
• The Division of Human Companies’ request to spend $5 million on its veterans points initiative for behavorial well being and suicide prevention with a concentrate on veterans.
• The Division of Commerce’s request to spend $4.24 million to create and administer a short-term rental help grant program benefiting Arkansans who’ve been adversely impacted by the pandemic. This program additionally shall be financed by federal Group Growth Block Grants totaling $5.76 million.
The division mentioned its Recent Begin program will accomplice with Arkansas Group Motion Companies Affiliation to offer grant funding to help low- and moderate-income people and households which have past-due rental bills or with a discover of pending eviction if the expense was incurred on or after March 18.
The applicant should be capable to certify that they have been unable to make past-due rental fee as a result of unemployment, sickness or different covid-19 associated problem., in response to the division. This system will disburse funds on to landlords for 2½ months of hire, to not exceed honest market rental worth.
• The Division of Human Companies’ request to spend $1.82 million by the Arkansas Starvation Aid Alliance partnership for statewide essential direct feeding companies for youngsters, aged and households.
• The Division of Well being’s request to spend $1.2 million for cellular models and grants to community-based organizations.